For most people, upgrading to Windows 7 has been a relatively painless process.
Not me. I am in the unlucky 1% or less who had a somewhat less pleasant experience. First, I cloned my entire hard drive onto a larger (and much faster) solid state hard drive, only experiencing minimal problems.
Then, I bought the Retail version of Windows 7 Ultimate, took a deep breath and... oh yeah, I almost forgot - BACK UP THE COMPUTER. The next morning I upgraded to Win 7 and everything seemed fine, until...
I rebooted the system, the nice Windows 7 launch graphics come up, it's about to launch and AWWW, are you kidding me?!?! Back to the BIOS splash screen? Next comes the sequence of failure - attempt repair - unable to repair - do you want to wipe your hard drive decisions.
Because I purchased the retail version, a number is provided where I could call Microsoft Tech support. When I did, they instructed me to click "Install" from my installation CD, which did not work. When I tried the "Upgrade" option, it reaches an impasse, saying you have a newer version of Win 7, and thus cannot Upgrade. If you choose "Install" you willl lose everything... files, programs, EVERYTHING. Or at least this is what it tells you. Not willing to take the risk, I took them at their word.
To make things worse, I had installed a new antivirus software application before I realized my system was unstable (Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security), and this was causing additional problems.
One interesting thing, and the only saving grace as it turns out, was that my system WOULD successfully reboot into the OS if I chose to restart it, rather than shut it down. If I chose to shut down, I would have to go through the loop again until I was given the option to restart.
As it turned out, I needed to update my BIOS. I assumed that since I had updated my BIOS a long time ago to settings that were stable under Windows Vista Ultimate x64, Win 7 would adopt the same settings and didn't expect there to be any problems. WRONG.
My BIOS had a setting to halt the boot cycle if various kinds of errors were detected. Windows Vista didn't care about this, but forget it under Windows 7. Needless to say, I immediately corrected that BIOS setting. Next, there were the two separate BIOS settings: enable USB mouse and enable USB keyboard. The only sequence of events that would work were to start my reboot process over from stratch with a hard-wired non-usb keyboard and mouse. Whent the system booted under these settings, it didn't detect any errors due to either the mouse or keyboard, and actually booted for the first time in a long while (let me tell ya, that's an aaamazing experience after fiddling with settings for two entire weekends!)
Next step: leave your old mouse and keyboard connected, but also connect your other two devices (mouse, keyboard) that use USB connections. During the boot cycle, the operating system will not fail due to missing requirements atstartup, and it will then pick up the new drivers necessary to use your new hardware.
If you think you are in the clear here, you are wrong. The next VERY IMPORTANT step is to remember to change your settings in the BIOS upon next startup. Specifically, you will need to change your BIOS to enable USB mouse and USB keyboard input. If you don't, Windows will detect an incompatibility upon the next startup, and you will be stuck once again in the endless cycle of reboot/Startup Repair/reboot/Startup Repair, without ever reaching a successful boot.
Here's the thing - the BIOS and the drivers registered in Win 7 need to match. If they don't, you're going to lose another weekend worrying and fiddling, all the while wondering if you've permanently damaged your hard drive beyond repair.
(Sigh). In the end, things worked out.
I must note that it is saddening to see how many posts there are out there that recommend just doing a clean install, as if it's the only option. How many countless poor souls have lost their data, their backups, their pictures and videos, all for nothing other than the fact that the person giving advice just didn't know what to do at that point?
My advice to you, try having a look at your BIOS settings first and making sure Win 7 can detect the BIOS settings it expects, and also disabling in your BIOS anything that might halt your system boot-up process if it encounters errors.
For additional information, have a look at MicroSoft's explanation of possible errors you may find in the SrtTrail.txt file, which logs boot problems and such:
For me, all I found was:
Root cause found:
Unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused the problem.